This post probably contains affiliate links from which I earn a small commission if you buy from them, at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for stopping by!
If you speak to anyone who has been to the West coast of Australia, they will 100% tell you that ‘West is best’. And it’s places like Exmouth that make this so undeniable true. With a tonne of outdoorsy things to do in Exmouth, it’s really somewhere you need to have on your Australia bucket list.
Exmouth is part of the Coral Coast and the epitome of the bright white beaches and turquoise waters that come to mind when you think of Australia. But not only does it bring those pictures to life, but it’s also the gateway to the incredible Ningaloo Reef. Australian’s know how amazing this reef is, but not half as many backpackers seem to venture over this way!
Now, I love the east coast of Australia and I am still mind-blown that I got to tick diving the Great Barrier Reef off of my bucket list. But seriously, the Ningaloo reef trumps this hands down. Not only is the water warmer and clearer, but the reef starts the second you step off of the sand. It’s literally, right in front of you.
But on top of all that, the surrounding nature of Cape Range National Park is something you won’t want to miss and if you only have 2 days in Exmouth, you’re going to have no problem filling your time. Here’s how to have the best time in Exmouth.
You might also like:
- 24 things to see and do in Broome
- My EPIC 2 day Karijini Itinerary
- Ultimate packing guide to travelling Australia
Watch the vlog:
Where is Exmouth?
This tiny town on the coast of Western Australia is the start of the Ningaloo Reef. If you’re doing an epic West coast road trip, Exmouth is pretty much the halfway point between Broome and Perth. If you’re coming from the North, don’t miss out on visiting Karijini either, it’s one of the best National Parks in Western Australia!
- Perth to Exmouth – 1290km, 15 hour drive
- Broome to Exmouth – 1372km, 13.5 hour drive
- Karijini to Exmouth – 658km, 8 hour drive
- Exmouth to Carnarvon – 408km, 6 hour drive
How to visit Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range
Exmouth is part of the Coral Coast which stretches from Cervantes (2 hours north of Perth) to the Ningaloo Reef. There is the town of Exmouth but it’s most famous and popular for being the start of the Ningaloo Marine Park and for Cape Range National Park.
To visit Cape Range National Park, you’ll need a National Park Pass. These are available as a day pass for $15 or you can get a 4 week pass (which is what I definitely recommend if you’re doing a Western Australia road trip) which costs $60. You can buy them online and print the pass, or buy a pass from a number of outlets. Start dates can be selected in advance so you don’t have to waste time on your first day getting the pass and rushing to make use of it. You don’t need a pass to go to the Ningaloo Marine Park
You can buy the pass online or find a convenient outlet online here.
Where to stay in Exmouth
For a 2 day visit to Exmouth, I actually recommend staying in Cape Range National Park. It’s simply stunning and the perfect location to explore both the national park and the Ningaloo Reef.
We stayed at the Misa campground which is right next to sand dunes and the beach. The campground has toilets and the spaces are huge. There aren’t many spaces on the campground and I highly recommend booking in advance.
When is the best time to visit Exmouth?
Western Australia’s weather is lovely and warm in the winter months and can be scorching hot in the summer with temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees! Aside from the weather, the wildlife is one of the main Exmouth attractions:
- The best time to see whale sharks in Exmouth is between March and August
- Visit between August and October to catch a glimpse of Humpback Whales in Exmouth
What do you need to pack for a trip to Exmouth?
In all honesty, not a lot! Exmouth is all about the Ningaloo Reef and exploring the Cape Range National Park. You’ll need a snorkel and mask, swimmers, travel towel and a decent pair of shoes to go walking in.
The BEST things to do in Exmouth
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse
For the best views of the Ningaloo Reef, make your way up to the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse. With its vantage point, it makes for the perfect spot for both sunrise or sunset. Don’t forget that the sun sets over the ocean on the west coast so you’re almost guaranteed one heck of an evening!
Swim with Whale Sharks
This was out of our budget at the time but Tom and I didn’t meet a single person who had taken a tour and not loved every second of it. The great thing about taking a tour from Exmouth is that the tour providers all have to adhere to strict rules so ensure the safety of both you and the Whale Sharks. There are amazing humpback tour options such as an eco-tour, a day tour on a catamaran or a day tour on a powerboat to suit all budgets. The Whale Sharks are definitely one of the main Exmouth Attractions.
Go Whale Watching
With this stretch of the coastline being one of the migration routes for Humpback Whales, Whale watching in Exmouth is one of the top things to do. There are some awesome whale watching tours to choose from but if you really want to max out on the experience, you can take a tour that allows you to actually swim with humpback whales!
Go snorkelling at Lakeside
This incredible beach is within Cape Range National Park and it’s such an easy way to get your first tastes of the Ningaloo reef. You’ll need to have a bit of a bag packed as the walk to the snorkelling area is 500m from the car park but it’s so beautiful it’s easy to spend a whole day there. The best thing about snorkelling at Lakeside is that the reef pretty much starts from the water’s edge so you don’t have to go far to see some of the best wildlife. It doesn’t matter if swimming with whales is out of your budget because experiencing the Ningaloo Reef is the best free thing to do in Exmouth, and so accessible.
Go snorkelling at Sandy Bay
This is another idyllic snorkelling spot with its calm waters and sweeping golden beach. It’s also a hotspot for kite surfers on a windy day. We didn’t spend as much time here as we did at Lakeside and Turquoise Bay but it’s just as beautiful.
Go snorkelling at Turquoise Bay
This is another of the most popular spots within the Ningaloo Marine Park but by some miracle, Tom and I actually had it to ourselves early one morning. The water here is so beautifully calm it’s the perfect place to go snorkelling even if you’re not the most confident swimmer. A visit to Turquoise Bay is definitely one of the best things to do in Exmouth WA even if it is busy.
Visit Yardie Creek Gorge
Yes, the main attraction to Exmouth is to explore the Ningaloo Reef but Yardie Creek Gorge in Cape Range is just as impressive in its own right. You can either explore the gorge on foot or take a Yardie Creek boat tour. We took the 1 hour return walking track along the top of the gorge which dished up brilliant views of the creek below and out to the ocean. We even saw rock wallabies so keep your eyes peeled for them.
Spy the SS Mildura Shipwreck
I’m not a history buff but being able to see a shipwreck is quite intriguing. To give you a little bit of a background on this wreck, the SS Mildura was caught in a cyclone in 1907 and now the wreck is just 80m form the shore and can be easily seen at low tide from Lighthouse Bay.